Ranking Las Vegas Strip Casinos: Mid-Tier Casinos – Part 2 of 4

Outside the Cromwell Casino in Las Vegas, Woman Happy Gambling, Outside Palazzo Casino in Vegas
A little while back, I had the pleasure of exploring the entirety of Las Vegas Boulevard, visiting all 28 casino venues on The Strip in a week of gambling and gluttony.

I’ve been coming to The Las Vegas Strip for all of my adult life, beginning in the 1980s before the big corporations began their ambitious multibillion-dollar building spree. Back then, casinos like the Aladdin, the Imperial Palace, and the Sahara were my favorite haunts; intimate settings that combined modern luxuries with an old-school gambling hall vibe.

The dealers took time to remember your name, pit bosses were happy to reward regulars with generous comps, and the entire scene felt like something straight out of a summer camp for gamblers.

Aladdin Casino in Las VegasOf course, during the 1990s a transformation hit The Strip and turned it into the sterilized skyline of neon facades you know today. The Aladdin, the Imperial Palace, and the Sahara all met their demise, either through demolition and rebuilding, or renovating and rebranding. Planet Hollywood rose from the ashes of an imploded Aladdin, the Imperial Palace became the Quad for a couple of years and is now known as the LINQ, and the Sahara somehow became known by the generic alias SLS.

Don’t get me wrong now, I appreciate the steady march of progress as much as the next guy, and a few of the new mega-resort monuments to of-age entertainment have become new personal favorites.

I took the time to write about my seven preferred casino destinations on The Las Vegas Strip, so you can read about the group I affectionately call “the best of the bunch” here. And sure enough, world-class award-winning casino resorts like the Wynn, the Aria, Caesars Palace, and the Bellagio certainly deserve their status as must-see attractions for the 40 million tourists, conventioneers, and repeat visitors who love Sin City as a second home.

But with 21 other casinos lining Las Vegas Boulevard, I realized my job wasn’t quite done just yet. Having revealed the best of the bunch, the time has come to cover seven more casinos on The Strip which occupy a niche I’ve termed the “mid-tier contenders.” The seven properties listed below each had their definite high points, along with just enough low points to bump them from the top seven.

And just to make things clear, these rankings are purely subjective based on my own personal experiences, so I urge every reader to pay a visit of their own and see for themselves.

8 – Palazzo

The Venetian scored my second-highest ranking of all 28 casinos on The Strip, so it’s not exactly a surprise to see its sister property the Palazzo take top billing here.

Palazzo Las Vegas Casino LogoIn fact, if the Palazzo stood alone and didn’t have the Venetian right next door, I’d have definitely it included in my top seven. It is though, so I had to knock the Palazzo down a few notches simply because I had already been “wined and dined” at the Venetian beforehand.

Opened in 2007—eight years after the Venetian was built by Las Vegas Sands Corp.—the Palazzo borrows the same Italian Renaissance theme throughout the immaculate interior. One of the few “all-suite” hotels on The Strip, the Palazzo boasts the most spacious standard rooms on Las Vegas Boulevard with 720 square feet of living space.

And while size definitely does matter, the appeal of the Palazzo’s accommodations isn’t exactly limited to square footage either.

These rooms, along with the casino and other amenities downstairs, have been awarded the coveted AAA Five Diamond honor every year since 2009.

As for that casino, gamblers can expect a glitzier experience that most venues on The Las Vegas Strip can offer, and that’s saying something given the competition. Everything from slightly juicier minimum limits on table games ($10 instead of $5 on blackjack, etc.), to a higher ratio of high-limit slot and video poker machines, combines to make the Palazzo the perfect place for high-rollers to feel comfortable.

And while you get your gamble on in the pit, which looks and feels more like a palace at the Palazzo, your significant other can spend their day (and your money) exploring the opulent Grand Canal Shoppes. This gleaming assortment of high-end retailers—featuring chic brands like Fendi, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Bulgari, and Burberry, just to name a few—connects the Palazzo to the Venetian in fine style.

All in all, the Palazzo leans towards the pricier side of The Strip economy, so bear that in mind when planning your trip. But if you have the bankroll to burn, and you’ve already had your fill of the superior Venetian, making the short trip northbound to book a stay at the Palazzo is the perfect way to enjoy your next sojourn to Sin City.

9 – Park MGM

If you’ve never heard of Park MGM, don’t worry too much, as this newly rebranded venue replaced the old Monte Carlo just last year.

Park MGM Las Vegas Casino LogoObviously owned and operated by parent company MGM Resorts, the Park MGM concept was designed to evoke the best of urban cityscapes like New York’s famed Central Park West. That means plenty of open-air corridors with natural landscaping lining them, and an array of boutiques, cafés, and other amenities that offer a completely different vibe from Las Vegas as it’s typically experienced.

Instead of crowding together with the masses in a cramped hallway, without a window in sight to offer natural sunlight, Park MGM prides itself on The Park. This outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment district transports visitors to another world, allowing you to wander between destinations at your leisure, all while perfectly placed trees provide shade on the hot summer days.

Outside The Park MGM in Las Vegas, Eataly Restaurant

My favorite part about Park MGM was Eataly, an Italian inspired marketplace that replaces the typical casino food court with something truly special. Bakeries, delis, cafés, wineries, ice cream parlors, and food stands combine to create a dining destination like no other in all of Las Vegas.

The casino at Park MGM is standard fare, offering all of the staples in a newly renovated environment that removes all connection to the defunct Monte Carlo. That means the latest slot and video poker machine models, fresh felt at the table games, and all the new side bets players today appreciate.

And to cap things off, Park MGM is practically connected to the nearby T-Mobile Arena, so you can catch a Las Vegas Knights game within walking distance of your hotel.

10 – Harrah’s

For me, Harrah’s represents the Platonic ideal of a Las Vegas Strip casino. That’s not to say it’s perfect by any means, just that Harrah’s seems to straddle the middle ground perfectly in every respect.

Harrah's Las Vegas Casino LogoNothing here will blow you away, but you’ll seldom leave Harrah’s feeling disappointed by your stay. And when you throw in affordable rates, player-friendly odds, and a staff that seems genuinely happy to provide superb service, Harrah’s has earned its reputation as a sneaky favorite for many long-time visitors.

A central location right in the heart of Las Vegas Boulevard doesn’t hurt either.  Booking a room at Harrah’s gives you a great “launch point” from which to explore the rest of The Strip.

Families will appreciate the massive swimming pool by day, while parents can have a blast at the Piano Bar by night. You’ll find a shopping mall, multiple bars and nightclubs, and beloved restaurant brands like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and Oyster Bar – all of the non-gambling amenities Vegas visitors have come to expect.

Harrah’s can feel a bit dated at times – it was built in 1973 and rebranded in 1992 with the current theme and décor – but that’s all part of the old gal’s charm in my book.

11 – Flamingo

I could easily replace the word “Harrah’s” in the previous passage with “Flamingo,” and my review would remain largely unchanged.

Flamingo Las Vegas Casino LogoAnother template casino, the Flamingo established the mold from which modern casinos along The Strip were designed. That makes perfect sense too, seeing as how the Flamingo became the very first casino resort built on Las Vegas Boulevard way back in 1946.

At that time, the Flamingo was the personal playground of mobster Bugsy Seigel, who billed the place as “The West’s Greatest Resort Hotel” upon opening the doors. Seigel himself was shot dead in 1947, but the legacy he left behind at the Flamingo lives on to this day.

Flamingo Las Vegas Casino Building

The art deco design cues, live flamingos strutting through their outdoor habitat in the center of the grounds, and old-school entertainment like Donny and Marie all give the Flamingo a nostalgic feel that older gamblers will appreciate.

12 – Cromwell

Not many places on The Strip have experienced a “rags to riches” tale like the casino currently known as the Cromwell.

The Cromwell Las Vegas Casino LogoThis venue began life as the Barbary Coast in 1979, and in 2007 it became Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon as an ode to cheap beers, low limit gambling, and sawdust on the floor just like Las Vegas used to do things.

The Bill’s experiment ended in 2014 when operator Caesars Entertainment took the property in an entirely new direction with the Cromwell. Today, guests come here to experience an ultra-luxurious ambience at one of The Strip’s only true boutique hotels.

That means a limited selection of 188 rooms, and a relatively small 40,000-square foot casino, all of which is designed to offer the height of modern luxury.

Picture those fancy hotels portrayed in old movies, with valets waiting on you hand and foot and all the rest.

Whether you find the Cromwell pretentious or perfect is a matter of personal preference, but let’s just say I enjoy a more down to earth experience. In any event, seeing the Cromwell for yourself should be considered a bucket list item, if only to gamble at the Abbey with a personal host in tow taking care of your every need.

13 – Tropicana

Built in 1955, the Tropicana can often feel like a relic from Las Vegas’ early days.

Tropicana Las Vegas Casino LogoThat’s only natural too, as “The Trop” hasn’t changed much from its time as center stage for many of Sin City’s most iconic moments on the silver screen.

Elvis Presley wowed audiences in “Viva Las Vegas” (1964) while strolling through the Tropicana, while “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) brought James Bond along for his usual spycraft adventures.

And when Michael Corleone visits his black sheep little brother Fredo in “The Godfather” (1972), the Tropicana stands in for the mob-controlled casino.

Those little historical nuggets alone made the Tropicana worthwhile for me, but other visitors may not appreciate the rundown décor and lackluster amenities – hence its inclusion toward the end of my mid-tier contender list.

14 – The LINQ

My review of the LINQ will be admittedly biased because it occupies the grounds I knew and loved as Imperial Palace.

The Linq Las Vegas LogoThe transformation into the LINQ was only completed in 2014, so this is one of the newer casinos on The Strip – and it shows. A renovation valued at $223 million completely overhauled the interior, so those old jokes about the Imperial Palace’s downtrodden environs are history.

High Roller Wheel at The Linq in Las Vegas

The main draw here is the High Roller, that immense Ferris wheel contraption seen revolving slowly in the backdrop when you face The Strip from the west. I’m not usually one for rides, but taking a trip upward to soak in the Sin City skyline after sunset showcased everything I love about Las Vegas Boulevard.

Conclusion

Sometimes you win big when gambling in Las Vegas, and other sessions produce significant losses. But more often than not, you’ll find yourself breaking even. That’s the impression I got from the seven casinos listed above because while they weren’t the mind-blowing destinations found on my top seven, these venues were still perfectly reasonable alternatives that are far from the worse locales on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Consider these properties to be backup pitchers of sorts, ready to come in and throw a change up your way after the aces start feeling a bit tired. You can only see the fountains at Bellagio or the Aria’s artistic design so many times before those features become familiar, which makes these seven mid-tier contenders a great way to mix things up.